Law on the International Stage

Flags

by 2L Yasmine Palmer

Students at William & Mary have the opportunity to take courses on a variety of interesting international topics, taught by professors who are foremost in their field. The Law School offers an International Law Concentration designed to help students specialize in whatever ‘branch’ of international law interests them most.

Interested in human rights law? Take International Criminal Law with Professor Nancy Combs, a former legal advisor at the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, who has given expert testimony before courts around the world. Interested in the international aspect of business? Take International Business Transactions or Corporations & International Law with Professor Jay Butler, a former legal advisor to the Government of Japan.

Though these are just three of the many international law classes offered, they serve as evidence of the opportunity that one has at William & Mart to get a diverse education in international law. But the opportunities don’t stop there!

Yasmine Palmer at the Hague

International Experiences

Last summer, I interned at the United Nations’ International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. The Mechanism was created by the UN to takeover and complete the work started by the now-closed International Tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia. It has two locations: one in Arusha, Tanzania and one in The Hague, Netherlands. I worked in The Hague (“Den Haag” in Dutch)!

Serving as a legal intern in the Appeals Division of the Office of the Prosecutor, I spent twelve weeks working on a variety of projects and assignments related to the pending appeal case of the former Bosnian general, Ratko Mladic. Our office was made up of lawyers and interns from around the world, featuring people from places as close by as France and as far away as Hong Kong. Unfortunately, due to confidentiality concerns—it is an active court, after all—I can’t say much else about the actual job. What I will say, though, is that I learned a lot during this internship and developed legal writing and internationally-focused research skills that I hope to apply to my career in the future. I also developed wonderful friendships and professional connections that I could not have made elsewhere.

I’m so thankful to have had an opportunity like this one and, as a law student at William & Mary, you can too!

Professor Christie Warren, Director of the Center for Comparative Legal Studies and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, offers an internship program that provides students with legal internships in countries around the world. Last summer, students went everywhere from Bangladesh to Jordan to South Africa, but she also offers internships at locations right here in the U.S.!

Students who apply to international internships outside of Professor Warren’s program still have many resources at their disposal. I, for example, applied directly to the Mechanism via the UN career portal, but relied heavily on the support of my professors and Office of Career Services advisor. I have no doubt that their guidance helped me to succeed.

If you are a student interested in pursuing a career in international law, William & Mary’s robust academic and experiential offerings might be for you!

That One Time in a Congressional Hearing

Jamie & RDU Interns

Jamie (right) and the other Retaliation and Disclosure Unit interns

I can’t believe this is already the last week of my internship at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel!  The last few weeks have been very exciting, particularly because my intern duties shifted a little bit.  Since my last post, I went from working directly on cases in the Retaliation & Disclosure Unit (RDU) to working on a team tasked with prepping the Special Counsel for testimony in a congressional hearing.

The hearing involved retaliatory practices within the Department of Veterans Affairs, so as an RDU intern, I was asked to help with preparing materials for the hearing.  During these couple weeks, I had to read and summarize reports containing OSC data, watch previous hearings to formulate potential questions that members of Congress might ask, and help put together binders with OSC data for the Special Counsel and his staff to have handy during the actual hearing, among other tasks. All of this culminated in going to the Hill with the Special Counsel to attend the hearing.

I had never been to a congressional hearing before, and it was especially exciting after spending so much time preparing materials for the event.  This opportunity is just another example of how this summer has allowed me to not only explore my interests, but to hone them.  Throughout this summer, I have had the opportunity to work directly on cases where I got to analyze various disclosures and prohibited personal practices, do document review, participate in witness interviews, prepare initial summaries of case files for attorneys, and participate in preparing the Special Counsel for a congressional hearing, which allowed me to engage in hands-on experience to learn more about congressional investigations and oversight.  These varied experiences have been invaluable in realizing what kind of law I’m interested in, and have opened doors to pursuing those interests.

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better summer experience here at OSC.  Working directly on cases and preparing for and attending a congressional hearing (and weekly trivia night!) are only a few of many examples of why I have enjoyed my summer so much.  I am excited to bring what I learned this summer back to Williamsburg with me in a few weeks!

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